Most hockey fans have heard of the Gordie Howe Hat-trick, but have they actually seen one? It's a rare feat to accomplish and there is a lot of myth and legend surrounding it.
To refresh your memory, the trick includes notching a goal, assist, and fight in the same game. To see it in action, you can see Rick Nash complete the trick last season. Interestingly, teams that had a Gordie Howe hat-trick were 13-4 in last season.
There is some debate about how many times Gordie Howe himself did this, but the NHL does not keep official statistics for it. According to Jeff Marek, Howe only competed the trick twice and suggested renaming it. Currently, Brenden Shanahan holds the record with 17 and the closest active player is Jarome Iginla.
Nevertheless, Gordie Howe is credited with the name due to his combination of physicality on the ice and scoring ability. However, as years have gone on the prototypical "power forward" is slowly going the way of the Dodo, but a handful of players still possess the abilities to keep the tradition alive.
Keep a close eye on the following 10 players who are best suited to pull it off in 2010.
A lot of people are high on Evander Kane this season and for good reason. He has every chance to be a dominant force in this league. He's already shown that he can pass and score and twice last season he dropped the gloves. One of his fights was an epic knockout of Matt Cooke that pleased many fans and players around the league. As he gets more ice time and continues to develop, he is a prime candidate for the Gordie Howe hat trick.
Not many people view Mike Fisher as a fighter and they would be right. However, he is not immune to a brawl if it's required. Last season he only fought twice, but he has the skill set to complete the trick on a good night. Admittedly he's a long shot, but now that he's married to Carrie Underwood opposing players will have extra fuel to light his fire.
Ryan Getzlaf doesn't fight a lot, but he's got a decent chance at the hat-trick because he puts up a lot of points and plays with a mean streak. Last season he accomplished the feat in March with a goal, assist, and a fight vs Columbus.
He was only in the box for fighting two other times times in 2009, but should be good for another handful this season too. The Ducks might be on the outside of the playoffs once again this year so you can bet he'll want to release some of that frustration as the season goes on. Don't be surprised if he makes the highlight reel with at least one Gordie Howe hat-trick, if not more.
Like Getzlaf, Richards puts up a lot of points and will get in a tussle if the situation requires it. No one is about to anoint him the next enforcer, but he could be in a half dozen fights in 2010. Chances are he'll still be pissed about losing in the finals and the Flyers goaltending didn't improve. I'd want to fight too after my goalie blows the game every other night.
As we move up the list we are going to see more players like Milan Lucic. Rough and tumble guys that are equally satisfied with a goal, assist, or fight. Thankfully for Gordie Howe, players like Lucic can do it all and keep his legacy alive. Lucic fought four times in 50 games last year and if he can stay healthy, expect that number to go up. This fan favorite in Boston is a prime candidate to complete the hat-trick.
Steve Yzerman is excited to have a player like Steve Downie. He can hit, fight, pass, and score. One of these nights he's going to do it all on one night. He will have every opportunity because he'll have great linemates to play with once again. Names like Lecavalier, St Louis, Stamkos, Gagne, and Hedman will enable Downie to rack up some points. When opposing teams feel like taking some liberties on these players, Downie will be the first to answer the bell. He received eight fighting majors in 2009 and he's good for at least ten this season.
Sean Avery isn't about to win any popularity contests anytime soon, but that's the kind of spot he likes to be in. He's always had the reputation as a world-class agitator and opposing players are anxious to smack him upside the head. He fought seven times last year, but that number could have been three or four times more if other players had their way.
Most nights he'll spear you in the gut and then turtle like Claude Lemiuex, but if he's got a couple of points on the board he might be in the mood for a Gordie Howe hat-trick. Too bad for him it's the only accolade he's likely to win in this league. To date, he has already won the distinction four times.
Chris Stewart is no joke. He is developing into a nice power forward and has all the tools to complete the hat-trick this year. He already has two under his belt after putting up a goal, two assists, and a fight in December and January last season, but don't expect these to be his last.
He plays with top-end talent and drops the gloves when his team needs the spark. Six of his seven fights were on the road last year which indicates he's not doing it to put on a show. Fighting on the road is a great momentum shift for a team looking to grind out some valuable points. Much like Downie, Stewart will come to the rescue of his teammates in a heartbeat and could easily hit double-digit fights this season.
Jarome Iginla is perhaps the prototypical power forward in the NHL today. A supreme talent with the puck and a fearless leader with his body. Given the fact that he's a point-per-game player, the chances are high for him to complete the hat-trick if Vincent Lecaveliar makes the mistake of dropping the gloves again.
Iginla was in six fights in 2009 which is probably six fights too many for his coach's liking, but he's adamant that he will take you on if it's warranted. He already broke his hand in a fight in 2003 in a fight with Guerin. Last year he completed a Gordie Howe hat-trick against Edmonton which brings his career total to seven.
Coming in at number one is the underrated power forward Ryane Clowe from the San Jose Sharks. At 27, he is really starting to come into his own coming off back-to-back 50+ point seasons. He loves to lay the body and mix things up. Clowe is an old-school NHL power forward and is the best candidate to complete the Gordie Howe hat-trick in 2010.
Last year he engaged in 11 fights and there's no reason to think he won't be in another dozen this year. With five fights on the road and six at home, he clearly has no preference where the tilt happens. With no drop-off in talent in San Jose, you can expect more points from him again this year and will hold the pole position to complete the trick. He may have a long way to go to catch Iginla's career totals, but it won't be long if he continues his career with the same in-your-face style.